Police arrest man suspected of robbing, assaulting California news crews

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San Francisco police announced this week the arrest of a man in connection with a pair of robberies involving two television news crews.

Michael Jones, 23, was taken into custody on July 27 after a chase that began at a hotel in Fremont, a town 30 miles outside of San Francisco. Police said Jones was being held in connection with grand theft, aggravated, conspiracy and several outstanding warrants on drug, burglary and hit and run charges.

In early July, television stations were broadcasting live from San Francisco’s Embarcadero in relation to a story involving the shooting death of a local woman by an undocumented worker. During the morning news broadcasts, police say Jones pointed a firearm at a news crew from NBC station KNTV (Channel 11), assaulting the photographer and stealing camera equipment.

Audio of the ordeal was broadcast live on FOX station KTVU (Channel 2). When KTVU’s reporter and photographer rushed to assist their colleagues at KNTV, police say Jones assaulted KTVU’s photographer and stole his camera equipment.

At a press conference on August 12, police said a black BMW used in the crime clued detectives in to Jones’ identity. It was not immediately clear why police waited nearly two weeks to announce the rest or if they immediately identified Jones in connection with the assaults on the news crews. Police said they have not yet recovered the stolen equipment.

News crews from throughout Northern California have been subjected to assaults and thefts over the last few years, often in broad daylight and sometimes on live television. Reporters and photographers from KRON-TV (Channel 4), KPIX-TV (Channel 5) and KGO-TV (Channel 7) have either been assaulted, had camera equipment stolen or both.

Shortly after the assaults began, stations began offering hiring security guards to protect crews dispatched to areas with a reputation for violent crime. Police said this week they are also working with stations to equip their gear with tracking devices.